25. May, 2022

Text

WEDNESDAY 25-05-22

Well nobody came knocking on our door to tell us we couldn't stay the night in the parking area across from the ferry and so there we stayed for the night, along with a couple of motorhome neighbours.

We were awake in time and scrubbed up early enough to have caught the 09:00 crossing should we have chosen to, but we decided to stick with the 10:30, only it wasn't 10:30. Having paid fifty-four Euros for our ticket and joined the line to board, we had to sit twiddling our thumbs while they backed a fuel tanker onboard to refuel the ferry. Never mind, it was only a thirty-minute delay, and we cleared the port at 11:00. We noticed there were a lot of young families onboard before realising it must be kids half-term, which meant everywhere would be busy, and there was no escaping it.

It's a half-hour crossing and my word what a difference it was on the other side of the estuary at Royan. The place was heaving, with traffic everywhere. I suppose it was the combination of the local and newly arrived ferry traffic that caused it. It was stop-start motoring for ages until we finally cleared the town.

We were making for a campsite I had earmarked. Naturally enough 'IT' took us through the main streets of the local communities as we passed along the way. Add to that the two detours we made for a baguette and fuel and the trip became hard work. Unfortunately we were too slow off the mark to get a picture of the very impressive road bridge which joins the island of Oleron to the mainland, so we'll have to try and get one on the way back.

After much huffing and puffing we arrived outside the Municipal Campsite (N45.923789° W1.342501°), to find that not only was it shut, but the bulldozers were in there making a real mess. In fact it looked as if they were turning it in to a scramble track for motorbikes rather than improving the campsite. Oh deep joy, I was so looking forward to being off the road. Luckily we'd spotted another campsite back down the road, so having turned round we made our way there. Turning off the road I found myself at the barrier to the campsite. The Chef climbed out and made her way to Reception. It wasn't long before she was back. Not only were they closed for the two-hour lunch and wine break, but they were closed all afternoon. In fact on every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, they shut at lunchtime and don't open again at all. What a way to run a business. I'd about had enough and so we decided to carry on up to the north of the island to Saint Denis, and after that, if we hadn't found anywhere suitable to park up we'd turn round and go back to the mainland.

Fortunately as we approached the village we spotted a sign for an aire. What luck. So here we are. It's just twelve Euros a night and that includes electricity, and there is also a toilet and shower block, but they look a bit rough, so we'll use our own shower in the morning.

It's a very busy aire/Camperstop (N46.027602 W1.383175). We've not heard any yap yap yapping of dysfunctional little short-arsed mutts, so I guess there are no Brits here. In fact the site looks like a pikey jamboree.

We had a walk in to town and down to the port (marina). It's not that special. Most of the boats are small day boats so I guess they are used to go fishing offshore. We did also take a look at the Municipal Campsite there. It's in a good location right by the beach, but it's nothing special. It does though, have about four WWII concrete gun emplacements looking out to sea. Well I say, you just can't have too many, and I'm sure the campers sleep soundly knowing they are there. I doubt they were built by the French Defence Ministry, because the Germans went through France so fast the French barely had time to surrender. I believe even today you can go online and buy a French WWII rifle 'Never used, dropped only once'.

Back at the aire we spent some time reading outside before tonight's fine dining experience. For me it was to be a kebab. We had bought some French minced beef (we pay top price for 'the best' in the hope they haven't mixed it with Red Rum's offspring). The seasoning for the kebab I've had ages. It must be years. In fact I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that some of what I bought was used to embalm the pharaohs. It was fine, though the kebab breads were very dry (French food again!), never mind, with some red onion, pepper and a side salad it was a very pleasant change, meanwhile, my darling Chef treated herself to a tuna salad.

Then we got discussing the merits of Aldi and Lidl supermarkets in France, and had to conclude that Lidl is by far the better supermarket chain for quality over here.

The proof was in the pudding, quite literally as we enjoyed Spanish strawberries bought today from Lidl, topped off with a dollop of Greek Yoghurt.

It looks as if we'll be escaping the island tomorrow. We'll take a look at our options later this evening.

It looks as if my 12Gb 3Mobile data SIM card is about to run out, having used just 6GB of it under 3Mobile's 'fair' usage policy. Fortunately I have two more onboard. After that I'm done with them. When we get back to Citi Europe at Calais I'll go in to a French mobile phone shop and talk to them, with a view to buying French data SIM cards. That way I won't be penalised for using a SIM card in a foreign country.